The Wizard of Oz is America in Immigration Film ‘Under the Same Moon’

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Average: 4.3 (3 votes) Oscarman rating: 3.5/5CHICAGO – The immigrant “crisis” in the United States is discussed mostly in political generalities as if those seeking a better life are subhuman. “Under the Same Moon” focuses on the real faces of these people through a 10-year-old Mexican boy who risks everything in a journey to reunite with his mother in Los Angeles.

America Ferrera (left), Jesse Garcia (middle) and Adrian Alonso in Under the Same Moon
America Ferrera (left), Jesse Garcia (middle) and Adrian Alonso
in “Under the Same Moon”.
Photo credit: IMDb

Kate del Castillo is Rosario: a Mexican immigrant who has entered the U.S. illegally to gather more income to send to her mother and son in Mexico. She has been gone for several years and suffers severe heartache when she realizes her small boy is about to turn 10 years old.

Though cared for and nurtured by his grandmother, the boy – Carlitos (played by the excellent Adrian Alonso) – yearns to see his mother again.

When his beloved guardian suddenly dies, he sees his opportunity and arranges a passage with a shady “border crossing for hire” couple (America Ferrera from “Ugly Betty” plays the female half of the pair).

Adrian Alonso in Under the Same Moon
Adrian Alonso in “Under the Same Moon”.
Photo credit: IMDb

After the crossing gets dramatically fouled up, the boy has to escape from the van he’s hiding in within a towing yard in Texas. This begins a journey to his mother in the wilderness of America that’s touched by the kindness of strangers and the shadow of the immigration authority at every turn.

The flavor of the “The Wizard of Oz” permeates this adventure in America. The folks that facilitate the boy’s way are always wary of the “wicked witch” of immigration law enforcement.

There are also effective glimpses into the menial jobs the border crossers endure including the drudge maid work Rosario practices and the vegetable pickers of Carlito’s fellow journeymen.

It is Enrique (Eugenio Derbez) who emerges as the resistant hero for Carlitos. His anger and frustration serves as a representation of all the crossers who are exploited to do the jobs natives won’t touch.

Under the Same Moon
“Under the Same Moon”.
Photo credit: IMDb

It’s unfortunate the actors who play the principles are so clean, beautiful and moral as it adds a touch of the inauthentic to what I imagine is more of a complicated, issue-oriented debate. While this is a simple story of a boy and his mother, it felt like there should have been more to the account.

Also, the overall environment comes off as too soft. Still, writer Ligiah Villalobos and director Patricia Riggen have their hearts in the right place. They express love as a motivation for risk, which is universal empathy. After all, it is you and I who come from some place else. We’re off to see the wizard.

“Under the Same Moon” opened in limited U.S. theaters on March 19, 2008.

Click here for our full “Under the Same Moon” image gallery! staff writer Patrick McDonald

Staff Writer

© 2008 Patrick McDonald,

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